Meditations on an autumn afternoon

Angel in Victorian Cemetery in Bristol, UK
by Joe D at cotch.net

                   

Late afternoon, among the graves

I step between the head
stones, make my way
to the one place
that has held sway
over my life for so
long.

Surrounded
by the open expanse
of brown grass,
white marble and
polished granite, no
visible certainties exist, only
grey stone cherubs
worn faceless
by time and trial.
Across

the narrow lane, the
Hebrew section
stretches out
in pristine rows
of Stars of
David etched on black,
and polished stones
left on mothers’ graves
by guilt-ridden
children—a cairn
after a whispered
Kaddish

but here
where the children lie
the angels accost me
from every side—
a multitude of dominion in
plaster and cement,
on bended knees,
or with hands raised
like Michael, the warrior
—always hovering, voiceless
winged watchers
of the ophanim
and the seraphim.

Muted by their silence
I collect branches, scattered
debris, empty beer
bottles, wind-
blown faded petals, the
refuse of the living
strewn across the dead.
I become the caretaker
of the forgotten.

In this place—
this hollow hallowed
stretch of waste-
land—my decades-old dreams
have lain fallow,
here in this godless
bank of biers,
awash in autumn roses
and neatly trimmed box-
wood.

We
love our departed
but despair
of our living.
Who knows, truly,
the prayers the angels whisper
when no one can hear,
or the secrets buried
in the hearts
of the dead.

L. Liwag

September 19, 2012
Forest Lawn Cemetery, Norfolk

                   

Music by Vienna Teng, “Say Uncle”

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“If you know what you are going to write when you’re writing a poem, it’s going to be average.” ~ Derek Walcott

Lilacs by Muffett (FCC)

                   

“The central fact of my life has been the existence of words and the possibility of weaving those words into poetry.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges, This Craft of Verse

This poem came to me a few words at a time, the rough opening lines a few weeks ago, and then they took shape as I drove Brett to school on Monday. The rest came over the past few days. Tuesday night I could not sleep until I committed the middle to paper, and I’m glad that I did as too often I say to myself, I will remember in the morning, and I never do.

It’s still a bit rough, but I think that I’m almost there.

Late prayer for my daughter, heavy now with child

Once,
your father brought me lilacs
pale purple blossoms
to quell my anger.

Years after,
you sat so still,
posing,
holding your sister,
mere weeks from the womb.
Your Easter dress—
black
covered with pink rosebuds,
the picture I took,
lost somewhere to time.

Now,
you wait for your own girl child,
counting down the days,
a mere wisp on your lips
where happiness untroubled once dwelled.

Memories of other Aprils
lurk nearby,
reminders of spring’s inconstancy.
I hold
both heaven and hell in my heart
like a tea cup full of fragrant blooms.

L. Liwag

“She had burning things inside her that would not keep quiet.” ~ Kerem Mermutlu

Italian Winter Night
                   

“I just think that some things are meant to be broken. Imperfect. Chaotic. It’s the universe’s way of providing contrast, you know? There have to be a few holes in the road. It’s how life is.” ~ Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever

Friday afternoon. Not too cold, 40’s. Melting snow.

Big Ben in the Fog

Well, I have had a fairly productive afternoon. I called my gynecologist’s office to see how much an out-of-network visit for an established patient would cost, and quelle surpise! Turns out they do accept my new health insurance—even though they weren’t on the website’s list of providers.

When I spoke with one of the women in the billing office, I think that I confused her by saying that I wanted to pay the out-of-network price for an exam, but then she said, “We do accept XXX insurance.” Really? You’re not kidding, are you because that would be too cruel . . .

Hmm. Things that make you go hmm . . .

So I called my gastroenterologist’s office just out of curiosity. Turns out, they also accept my new health insurance, and no, they were not on the list of providers on the company’s website.

Curiouser and curiouser.

I called the mental health provider that I want to change to, but seems they take Friday afternoons off. Lucky them. So two out of three today isn’t bad at all. I must say. Not that I’m going to take back any of my ranting and railing at the complete and utter nonsense that I went through the other day. I don’t do take backs for corporations or politicians just on principle (since neither the former nor the latter have any, principles, that is).

“L’acte d’écrire prend le dessus et devient son propre sujet.” (The act of writing takes over and becomes its own subject.) ~ Robert Wasler

Charles Bridge at Dusk, Prague, Czech Republic

One thing that I forgot to mention in my last real post (Dr. Who poster doesn’t count as a real post, at least not in my mind, even though it’s fun) is that I submitted my poem for the contest. After leaving it alone for several days, I went back to it and found that it was a completely different poem than the one with which I had begun. The new poem actually hummed in its rhythm. I realized that my first concept for the poem was truly too structured for me to progress.

Quatrains. I have written in quatrains before, but the subject of this poem did not require such structure. It needed to be allowed to flow and to roam, and the words needed to be married and separated and allowed to run into each other if need be.

Then I left it alone for a few more days while I pondered an appropriate title. I’m still not certain about the title that I chose to use for the submission, but unlike some writers, I am not always loyal to titles when I revise. I have gone back years later to a poem and realized that the very thing that kept the poem from working was the title that I had originally bestowed upon it.

Anyway, I submitted it a few days before the deadline, and now we’ll just have to wait and see. I may or may not post the poem on this blog, just depends on . . . well, depends on lots of things.

“Unexpected intrusions of beauty. That is what life is.” ~ Saul Bellow, Herzog

Castel Sant'Angelo and Bridge, Rome

All of the snow from two nights ago has melted. In fact, most of it was gone when I woke up yesterday. I remember looking out the bathroom window around 3 a.m. (Thursday), and it was absolutely beautiful. Part of me wanted to run outside and take photographs. The other part of me, the cold part, decided against shooting photographs in my pajamas (as if my neighbors don’t already think that I’m more than a bit whacky).

Now that it’s gone, I sort of wish that I had followed my impulse. It’s probably because I don’t live in an area that gets lots of snow, but I just love it when it snows here. The air has a certain clean smell, unlike anything else, and in the middle of the night, when no cars are about, it’s completely silent. The world is blanketed and beautiful and seemingly full of possibilities.

I suppose if I lived up north somewhere, like Michigan or Alaska, I would probably not find the snow quite so mystical. Who knows.

I remember a particular snowfall in Blacksburg. It had snowed hard during the night and all of the next day. That night my ex and I went walking. It was very quiet as we were just about the only people out. We climbed one of the hills, and looked out. The sky had cleared, and the stars were out. I still remember that night so clearly. Everything looked and smelled so perfect. One of those moments in time, I suppose. 

“often i ask myself in the dark whether you feel
the glitter of words and see their souls unfurled.”~ Tzveta Sofronieva, from “(m)other words”, trans. by Chantal Wright  

Chaing Bridge at Night, Budapest

If I were ever to live somewhere where the winters were very cold, and it snowed frequently, there are a few things on my list of preferences that I would have to have:

  • A gas insert for a fireplace for warming hands and feet after being out in the cold
  • A deep, claw-footed bathtub, preferably with a fireplace or radiator in the room, for long, hot soaks, and a skylight above the tub to see the night sky
  • A towel warmer (Okay, don’t have to have this, but have you ever used one? Oooh. Pure luxury.)
  • Radiant heat below the kitchen and bathroom(s) floors. Mike Holmes (“Holmes on Homes”) swears by this stuff
  • A camera that can shoot snowflakes as they fall
  • A hot tub. Okay. I want this one no matter where I live because I know that my back would thank me for it each and every time I used it. But sitting in a hot tub while surrounded by snow is just so cool. And yes, I have done this, and I loved it.
  • Some very cool lined rubber boots. I love rubber boots, always have, but they have just come back into style in the past few years. I suppose that I could buy some to wear in the rain here, but honestly, there are so many other things that money could be spent on that I just can’t justify buying fashionable rubber boots.
  • Oh, and a Samoyed. I love those dogs, had one once for a few months but it caused a very ugly scene with a roommate. It’s just too hot and humid here for them to be really comfortable. Other than Labradors, Samoyeds and Huskies rank up there in my list of dogs that I would own.

Obviously, I’ve given some thought to this list. However, I don’t foresee moving anywhere cold anytime soon. Corey hates the cold, and is not that crazy about snow, either. Probably comes from growing up in Ohio, which can get pretty cold and tends to have snow. He wants warm to hot. I’ll settle for temperate.

Of course, all of this is pure pipe dream at this point, but that’s what we’re living on: a hope, a dream, and a prayer.

More later. Peace.

Music by Sheryl Crow and Sting, “Always on Your Side.” Love, love this.

“If the earth needs night as well as day, wouldn’t it follow that the soul requires endarkenment to balance enlightenment?” ~ Tom Robbins from Jitterbut Perfume

Abstract: Branching Dream in Blues, by russell.tomlin
                   

“Where do colors go at night, before they are returned to us at dawn?” ~ Lorenzo

Sunday evening. Clear and chilly.

"Un Parc la nuit," by Jozsef Rippl-Ronai (ca. 1892-1895, Musee d’Orsay)

Last night I dreamed that I was fighting a dragon, a huge, purple dragon that swooped down over the meadow I happened to be in, and somehow, I escaped, only to fight a wolf with my bare hands. Weird, huh?

I love my husband; he shares everything me. For instance, his winter cold—clogged ears, cough, aches, and all. His symptoms began about four or five days ago. Mine hit their high point yesterday, so another day in bed for me. How does one repay such generosity of spirit? I’ll find a way. Trust me.

 I didn’t come near the computer yesterday, which should give you an idea as to how low I felt. Instead, I read another book, this one by James Rollins. Please don’t ask me the title as I haven’t the foggiest idea. I just breezed through it in between napping. It possessed my little grey cells only for as long as I was actively reading. Sometimes those are the best kinds of books: formulaic plots that don’t tax the mind too much but manage to pass the time suitably, i.e., smart, independent woman, strong man, mad scientist/curator/military leader, possible end of the world scenario.

In other news, I think that I have finally, finally gotten my health insurance fiasco fixed. My last e-mail exchange with the HR rep at GW seems to confirm this, which makes it less fantasy and more possible reality. I know. Stupid isn’t it when wishing that you had health insurance that you are paying for actually worked? So if everything goes as hoped, I can make appointments with all of the specialists that I need to see: the neurologist, the gastro guy, the gyn, the eye doctor, and the mood doctor. Oh, and the breast smashing-people.

I have so much to look forward to.

“. . . Man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.”~ John F. Kennedy 

Tunisian Demonstrators Place Flowers in the Barrels of Soldiers' Guns from the majalla.com

On to other things . . . Corey has an aunt and uncle in Egypt. I’m not exactly sure as to their location, but I do know that they live in an American compound. Still, it’s a situation fraught with dangers. I will admit that I am not as up on the background that led to the current uprisings. My ongoing headache has greatly affected my usual perusal of news sites. But I did come across the following on my tumblr dash:

“The current popular unrest in the Arab world has a lot of lessons for Washington. Undoubtedly one of the most jarring is this: The leak of a simple series of cables from a U.S. ambassador in an obscure country — officially condemned by Washington — may have done more to inspire democracy in the Arab world than did a bloody, decade long, trillion-dollar war effort orchestrated by the United States.”

Michael Hirsch of The National Journal was referencing Tunisia in the above passage, which many feel has a direct link to what is happening now in Egypt. According to The Daily Mail, “A 2008 diplomatic cable leaked by the WikiLeaks site outlines how the U.S. State Department supported a pro-democracy activist and lobbied for the release of dissidents from custody.” The article goes on to state that “the protests were triggered by the overthrow of Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Al Ben Ali. Street protests in Tunis focused on similar issues, including poverty and political repression.”

I must take the time to research the situation more thoroughly. If anyone has any good links, I’d appreciate the info.

“The trouble is, you think you have time.” ~ Guatama Buddha

Grass on Water by Russell.Tomlin

In less world-shattering news, I have decided to enter an informal poetry contest that one of my fellow tmblrs is holding (A Poet Reflects).

Now, I should probably explain a few things here for those of you who think that entering such a contest is old hat for me. First, and probably most importantly, to enter the contest, I must submit my work. This means that someone other than my computer and occasionally a few family members will see my poetic attempts. The idea of such a thing scares the ever-loving bejeezus out of me.

Second, I don’t practice my poetry often; dabbling might be stretching the reality a bit. I am much more comfortable in prose. But occasionally, a poem comes to me out of the blue. You would think (well, most logical people would think) that such flashes would inspire me to hasten to some writing utensil to put down the words that are bouncing around in my head so that I can work with them more. Nope. Don’t do it. Too scared.

Too convinced that my poems are hack. Too certain that there is no point. So after reading about this contest, that night in bed the opening of a poem came to me. I went over it several times, rearranging words, deleting some, inserting others. By the time I was finished with my musings, I probably had eight or ten lines. Now anyone else might get out of bed and write these lines down so that they could be revisited in the morning. Did I do that? No. I told myself, ‘self, surely you will remember all of this mental gymnastics in the morning. Go to sleep.’

And so I did.

“So many worlds, so much to do, so little done, such things to be.”~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson

"Chinese Lanterns at Night," by Thomas Watson Ball

 Of course I did not remember. This is the third thing in the list of things you should know about my poetry, and/or writing in general: I am my own worst enemy.

The next day, after bemoaning the fact that I could remember not even one line, I took a pad of paper and pen and sat on the bed to begin again. (I prefer to draft poems with pen rather than computer—probably the only kind of writing that I do with pen any more.) I was rather pleased when I drafted eight quatrains, rapid-fire. Rather surprised, too. Then I reread them and promptly put down the pen and paper and thought to myself, “Crap. Crap. Crap.” A few hours later, a totally new opening came to me, and having learned my lesson somewhat, I wrote down the new opening. Then I left everything alone so that I could mull and stew a bit (I view poems a lot like my homemade spaghetti sauce: it needs to simmer to reach its optimum flavor).

Okay, now here is the kicker: I put the three pages of pen-written draft in my book basket next to my side of the bed. At some point during the evening, I knocked over my cup of tea. Where did most of it land?

Do I really need to tell you? On my draft. I spread the soaked sheets of paper on plain white paper (one was written on both the front and back, something I rarely do) and left them to dry. It’s been two days. Have I looked at the pages to see if they are readable?

Of course not. Will I finish this poem in time to submit by the deadline? Who knows.

Perhaps the more interesting aspect is the journey that I have taken to write the poem rather than the poem itself. Then again, that just might be more of my self-justification for not doing what I need to do. Did I mention that a book of Pessoa’s poetry is the prize? That alone should motivate me to enter the contest.

I’ll let you know what I do when I know what I’m going to do.

More later. Peace.

Music by Jenny Lewis, “Godspeed”

                   

From “Silence,” by Edgar Lee Masters

I have known the silence of the stars and the sea,
And the silence of the city when it pauses,
And the silence of a man with a maid,
And the silence for which music alone finds the word,
And the silence of the woods before the winds of spring begin,
And the silence of the sick,
When their eyes roam about the room.
And I ask: For the depths
Of what use is language?
A beast of the field moans a few times
When death takes its young.
And we are voiceless in the presence of realities—
We cannot speak.